The Short of It
A mom's response on Facebook to being criticized for spoiling her daughter has gone viral.
Kelly Dirkes was carrying her baby girl in her arms while shopping at Target when another women decided to stop and accuse her of spoiling her child.
Dirkes—who adopted her daughter at 10 months old—took the high road during the encounter, but then she went home and decided to hit back on Facebook, with a post that has now been shared nearly 18,000 times.
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"Dear Woman in Target," her post begins. "I've heard it before, you know. That I 'spoil that baby'. You were convinced that she'd never learn to be 'independent'. I smiled at you, kissed her head, and continued my shopping. If you only knew what I know."
Dirkes then goes on to explain how her daughter spent the first 10 months of her life in an orphanage, alone in a metal crib:
"If you only knew what her face looked like the moment her orphanage caregiver handed her to me to cradle for the very first time—fleeting moments of serenity commingled with sheer terror. No one had ever held her that way before, and she had no idea what she was supposed to do.
"If you only knew that she would lay in her crib after waking and never cry—because up until now, no one would respond. If you only knew that anxiety was a standard part of her day, along with banging her head on her crib rails and rocking herself for sensory input and comfort. If you only knew that that baby in the carrier is heartbreakingly 'independent'—and how we will spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years trying to override the part of her brain that screams 'trauma' and 'not safe'. If you only knew what I know."
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Dirkes also describes how her daughter is finally starting to come out of her shell and learn how to trust, and she says she now cries when she's put down, instead of when she is picked up. "'Spoiling that baby' is the most important job I will ever have, and it is a privilege," she explains. "I will carry her for a little while longer—or as long as she'll let me—because she is learning that she is safe. That she belongs. That she is loved. If you only knew..."
What a beautiful letter! Dirkes is clearly a class act, and I think the world could use more women just like her, who are willing to take in and "spoil" a child in need. People should learn to mind their own business and stop offering unsolicited advice.
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Not surprisingly, Facebook commenters came out in full force in response to Dirkes post.
"Amen, sister," wrote one. "My babies will always know their parents' arms as long as I am alive to wrap them around them."
"Follow your instincts...they are strong and right!" added another.
And finally: "Sad that it is so easy to judge others and such a challenge to open one's heart."
Let's let Kelly's story serve as an important reminder.